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Rolf Harris has admitted he is good at disguising a “dark side” of his character as he gave evidence for a second day at his sex abuse trial.
The 84-year-old TV entertainer said his wife and daughter had not known of his relationship with an alleged victim.
Prosecuting lawyer Sasha Wass QC said the court would need to fathom “how dark that dark side actually is”.
Mr Harris, of Bray, in Berkshire, denies 12 indecent assaults between 1968 and 1986.
He told Southwark Crown Court he had had a consensual relationship with one woman – a childhood friend of his daughter – who is the subject of seven of the charges Mr Harris faces, when she was an adult, but that nothing had happened while she was a child.
When he said friends and family had not known about the relationship, Ms Wass asked: “You are pretty good at disguising that dark side of your character aren’t you?”
“Yes,” Mr Harris replied.
“It’s not a talent show!”
That’s how Sasha Wass QC calmly and politely steered proceedings at Southwark Crown Court today back to the serious business of the charges in hand.
Yesterday may have seen a show of theatricality from Rolf Harris, but today his arguments are under intense scrutiny.
Visibly quieter and less animated, he is facing tough cross examination in the witness box.
Quite often, he answers with affirmations, such as “I wasn’t there”, “it didn’t happen”, and “I don’t know”.
Mr Harris denied assaulting the woman during a holiday, when she was a child, telling the court: “It never happened.”
But he accepted that he had told the woman – then aged 13 – that she “looked lovely in her bikini” and when asked if he was telling her “you have got a great body”, replied: “I suppose so.”
When Ms Wass said: “By saying that to a 13-year-old, that’s a sexual remark isn’t it?”
“In hindsight I suppose it is,” he replied.
Referring to his behaviour on the trip, when it has been alleged that he indecently assaulted her several times, Ms Wass suggested Mr Harris “played with her like she was a toy”.
He said: “I would never do that.”
Mr Harris was in the witness box for a second day
And he disputed an account from the woman’s mother that he had visited her family home without his daughter, Bindi, being there.
“Didn’t happen,” he said.
Ms Wass said Mr Harris had been “above suspicion”, and had taken advantage of being “a well-loved children’s entertainer”.
He said that had not happened.
Asked about a claim he indecently assaulted the girl while his daughter was asleep in the same room, Mr Harris told the court: “She’s said all sorts of things that if it wasn’t so serious would have been laughable.”
Ms Wass said the abuse had been “part of the thrill” for Mr Harris, and listed the names of each alleged victims.
After each one, he said: “Nothing happened”.
Ms Wass told the court Mr Harris had said in his statement he had only had two “incidents of intimacy” with the alleged victim, and asked why he did not “tell the truth”.
He said: “We had two very attractive young ladies on the lawyers chamber and I was too embarrassed to say what had happened with them present.”
Mr Harris told the court he had a “huge row” with his daughter when she learned of his relationship with the woman, who was her friend.
“She’d smashed a couple of paintings of mine,” he said, saying he could not remember when this had happened.
Asked about his relationship with the alleged victim, Mr Harris said it had been based on a “mutual feeling of warmth and affection” and had not been an “affair”.
He was again shown the letter he wrote to his alleged victim’s father in which he confessed to a sexual relationship when she was over 18, and said it had been “extraordinarily difficult to write”.
The court also heard evidence from pantomime producer Paul Elliott, who described Mr Harris as “warm, fun, cuddly, jolly, a good friend to have”.
Asked whether he had ever been concerned about Mr Harris’s behaviour with “young children and adults”, he replied: “Absolutely not”.
Rolf Harris today admitted he may have sexually admired his daughter’s 13-year-old friend in a bikini.
He told the court he had complimented the girl who now accuses him of a 16-year campaign of sexual molestation.
The veteran singer and artist accepted this amounted to admiring her young teenage body and — with hindsight — that this had been a sexual remark.
Asked if he had admired her sexually on that holiday, Harris replied: “It’s possible, yes.”
The alleged victim has told the court the abuse had started when she was 13 and had joined her friend, the TV star’s daughter Bindi, on a Harris family holiday to Hawaii and Australia in 1978.
Harris admits having a sexual relationship with the girl but only after she turned 18. He denies sexual abuse.
The jury at Southwark crown court was shown a photograph taken by Harris on the holiday of the girl in a flesh-coloured bikini.
In cross examination, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told him: “When a man tells a woman or a girl she looks lovely in a bikini they are not admiring the clothing but admiring the body because there’s not a lot of fabric there, just a couple of triangles in the right places.
“You were saying to her, ‘You have a great body.’”
Harris replied: “I suppose so.”
Miss Wass: “When she was 13.”
Miss Wass: “You made it plain you did admire her body and you admired it sexually.”
Harris: “It didn’t compute to that in my mind.”
Miss Wass: “It was a sexual remark.”
Harris: “In hindsight I suppose so.”
Miss Wass: “You must have admired her body sexually during that holiday.”
Harris: “It’s possible, yes.”
Miss Wass told him that nobody denied he was a brilliant performer.
“But this case is not a talent show, this case is taking place to decide whether underneath your friendly and lovable exterior there is a dark side,” she said.
“Even on your own account the private Rolf Harris was very different from the public Rolf Harris.”
He agreed that he had hidden his affairs with his daughter’s friend and his woman chauffeur.
Miss Wass said: “You are pretty good at disguising that dark side of your character.”
Harris replied: “Yes.”
Miss Wass: “The issue is how dark that dark side actually is — this was not a consensual relationship, this was child abuse, grooming and you effectively psychologically dominated that girl into womanhood.”
Harris: “I understand that is your case.”
Harris, 84, of Bray, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecent assault on four girls and young women between 1968 and 1986.
The case continues.
One has a leader with a swastika tattoo, one wants to rid his entire country of Muslims, another has a founder who suggested releasing the Ebola virus on migrants. This is the class of 2014, the parties set to enter the European Parliament as part of the Union’s most eurosceptic, far right, anti-immigrant intake of all time.
Though the British National Party had their one MEP dismissed by voters, this year is the first time openly neo-Nazi parties will sit in Brussels as representatives of their nations.
The European fringe of what Boris Johnson described as “bizarre or downright potty” have flooded the chamber.
Almost all are Eurosceptic, joining the mainstream anti-EU parties like Britain’s Ukip to make up around a third of the parliament.
Here’s the full rundown:
Front National (France)
Marine Le Pen has had to work hard to de-toxify her fair right party, including censoring her own father and the party’s founder. Jean Marie Le Pen suggested only last month that “Monseigneur Ebola” could sort out Europe’s immigration issue “in three months”. He has regularly been convicted under France’s race hate laws, and has called the Nazi gas chambers a “small detail” The party took a quarter of the vote in France, with its popular anti-immigration platform.
National Democratic Party (Germany)
The neo-Nazi NPD has been campaigning on a platform of stopping immigration and been called racist and anti-semitic. They have fought under the banner of slogans like “Money for granny instead of Sinti and Roma” and “the boat is full”, given interviews insisting Europe is “a continent of white people” and have marched with banners proclaiming the Nazi ideology of “National Socialism”.
Golden Dawn (Greece)
The Greek ultra nationalist party Golden Dawn has swapped its jackboots for suits in the run-up to the elections and been rewarded with its first seats in the European Parliament. Its main spokesman has a swastika tattoo, and a good number of the party’s members are in prison for being part of a criminal organisation. Its slogans have been daubed on mosques, synagogues and cemeteries. In May 2012, Golden Dawn ran in Greek elections under the slogan “So we can rid this land of filth”, set up ‘Greek-only’ food banks, and its spokesman has quoted from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in parliament, But the party insists it is neither criminal nor neo-Nazi. It is now the country’s third most popular party.
Finland’s anti-euro populist party has done less well than predicted, but still picked up two MEPs. Previously known as the ‘True Finns’ . Its MP James Hirvisaari was fined in 2011 for comments he made on his blog about Muslims, another declined an invite to the Independence Day ball because he did not want to see same-sex couples, but the party has repeatedly rejected accusations of racism and homophobia.
Danish People’s Party (Denmark)
The Danish People’s party won nearly 27% of the vote and has doubled its number of MEPs. The party’s founder Pia Kjærsgaard holds the view that Denmark is not a country where immigration is natural or welcome. In response to criticise from Swden, she retorted: “If they want to turn Stockholm, Gothenburg or Malmö into a Scandinavian Beirut, with clan wars, honour killings and gang rapes, let them do it. We can always put a barrier on the Øresund Bridge.”
Party for Freedom (The Netherlands)
Dutch far-right ‘Party for Freedom’ leader Geert Wilders will be disappointed with the results, as pro-EU parties topped the Dutch poll. His party has been dogged with controversy. Known for his vociferous criticism of Islam, Wilders is known for saying “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam”. He campaigns to end all Muslim immigration to the Netherlands and repatriate Muslims currently living there. “Islam is the Trojan Horse in Europe. If we do not stop Islamification now, Eurabia and Netherabia will just be a matter of time,” Wilders once told the Dutch parliament. This week, there was no difference in the rhetoric. “Do you want more or less Moroccans in this city and this country?” he shouted to a rally, to chants of “Less! Less!” “We’ll arrange that,” he said. The party retains four seats in the EU parliament.
The right-wing nationalist party Jobbik, one of the most obviously neo-Nazi parties in the European parliament, matched its 2009 EU election results, garnering 14.7% of the vote and three MEPs. Members have called for the country’s Jewish inhabitants to sign a special register. “I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary,” the party’s deputy parliamentary leader, Márton Gyöngyösi said.
Austrian Freedom (Austria)
There were huge gains for the far-right Freedom Party, which gained around a fifth of the vote for its anti-immigration platform. It doubled the number of MEPs, from two to four and says it hopes to form an alliance with the Front National. “If there are immigrants, from Turkey, who complain there is a cross hanging in the classroom at school, then I say to them: ‘go back home’,” was the slogan from leader Heinz-Christian Strache this week. The party is fiercely anti-Muslim immigration, and believes Austria should not accept any more migrants. Strache says he himself is not a racist because he “eats kebabs.”
Lega Nord (Italy)
The far-right party gained 6% of the vote in Italy. “Africa hasn’t produced great geniuses as anyone can see from a Mickey Mouse encyclopaedia,” one of its ex MEPs said,
But one bit of good news in Britain
Leader of the BNP Nick Griffin lost his seat in the European parliament, the far-right party’s only MEP after Andrew Brons quit the party. Out of breath and breathing heavily, Griffin said his reception at the town hall was “fairly typical”. He appeared to concede defeat saying his party had “no chance” tonight, before adding: “We will be back.” The BNP were the real “racist” party, he said, and those who had voted for Ukip had been mistaken.
It only took five days… or amazingly it took five whole days, but Ukip has suspended one of its newly-elected councillors after the fledgling politician was allegedly caught tweeting about “perverts”, “poofs and dykes” and “Pakis”.
Dave Small, a fresh face on Redditch Borough Council since Thursday, is to be investigated by the party for allegedly posting homophobic and racist remarks on social media. The councillor won the Church Hill ward by a hefty 665 votes, however he could soon find himself turfed out of Ukip should they conclude wrongdoing.
“Dave Small has been suspended with immediate effect, pending a disciplinary hearing to determine the final outcome,” said a Ukip spokesman.
It was reported that in February 2013, Small posted tweets about equal marriage (“poofs and dykes”) and gay people (“perverts”).
In November the previous year he’d complained that he was not allowed to use the term “Paki”, while in June he wrote: “I visiting the city of Birmingham recently and felt like a foreigner in the city of my birth, all around me I could hear the sound of jabbering in an alien voice … we also have the Pakistani’ and the Somali’s. Tell me Mr Cameron Why? the men wear their Pyjamas.”
Small then set about admonishing coalition policies for likely letting in “thousends mor scroungers” from Mali.
According to the Birmingham Mail, dubious Facebook posts have also surfaced, with Small apparently attacking BBC presenter Clare Balding and crooner Elton John for their sexuality.
“Why on earth is this useless Goverment pandering to Puffs? I refuse to call them gays, as what has gay to do with Perverts like Elton John and Clair [sic] Balding who get their jollies in such disgusting ways. to sum up, they should not allowed to be married, they should go back to the closet,” his status says.
Another post, under the heading “‘Muslims and the threat they pose to our way of life” states: “Fact, we had most eradicated T.B from this country, then with the migration for Muslim country’s its near epidemic proportions.
Yet another post from 2012 said: “I visiting the city of Birmingham recently and felt like a foreigner in the city of my birth, all around me I could hear the sound of jabbering in an alien voice … we also have the Pakistani’ and the Somali’s. Tell me Mr Cameron Why? the men wear their Pyjamas.”
“But mustn’t say anything, it might be considered racist.”
One of his Ukip collegues, Stuart Cross, a newly-elected councillor in Redditch South, said that Small should be kicked out of the party.
Stonewall’s acting chief executive, Ruth Hunt, told the Guardian Ukip would be “judged by the company they keep”.
“These reprehensible views have no place in modern Britain.”
Redditch Borough Council said that because the alleged comments were made before Small became a councillor, it was not for them to deal with him.
In what some are calling a complex game of “papal propaganda poker,” Pope Francis’s prayer at Israel’s West Bank separation barrier handed a decisive victory to the Palestinians, commentators said.
“One image from the pope’s visit has already become history,” admitted Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, saying the picture of the pope’s impromptu stop to rest his hand and forehead on the wall “immediately became a Palestinian PR achievement.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said “the Palestinians were touched” by his gesture and the pope was also “clearly moved by the experience.”
Francis’s decision to fly directly from Jordan to Bethlehem rather than starting his trip in Israel — which ruffled feathers in the Jewish state — was seen as “active recognition of the state of Palestine,” she said.
When he met children in the Dheishe refugee camp, the 77-year-old was presented with a key, symbolising Palestinians’ yearning to return, as well as a mocked-up refugee card bearing the name of Jesus.
And during the open-air mass he celebrated in Bethlehem, he stood in front of a vast mural of a nativity scene showing the infant Jesus swaddled in a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarf.
The decisive morale boost for the Palestinians was not well received in Israel.
“Obviously the Palestinians laid well prepared traps for the pope which were used as part of their instrumentalisation of this visit for propaganda purposes,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.
Ever aware of the PR value of such an image, Israel quickly moved to counter the blow with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly making a personal request for Francis to visit a national memorial for victims of militant attacks on Mt Herzl.
There, as Francis touched the marble plaques bearing the names of the victims, Netanyahu explained Israel’s rational for the barrier.
“We don’t teach our children to plant bombs. We teach them peace. But we have to build a wall against those who teach the other side,” he said, later adding: “After it was set up, the terror stopped.”
– Politics through religion? –
Religious watcher John Allen, who writes for the Boston Globe, said the stop was undoubtedly “an iconic visual that will resonate long after Francis is back in Rome”.
The Vatican rushed to limit the fallout, with spokesman Federico Lombardi insisting Francis’s unscheduled stop at the graffitied wall was “a personal decision” and not a politically-motivated act.
Lombardi also said the pope had hoped his emotional embrace at the Western Wall with two old friends travelling with him — Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud — would help mollify both sides.
“He managed to be political by being religious — exclusively religious,” said Pascal Gollnisch, head of the French Catholic NGO Oeuvre d’Orient.
Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli, who writes for La Stampa’s Vatican Insider and who knows the pontiff personally, rebuffed talk of point scoring, saying the pope “was not exploited by either the Israelis or the Palestinians.”
Spontaneous by nature, Francis empathised with “the suffering of everyone, of all parties” through gestures which showed his “capacity to physically convey his support,” he told AFP.
– ‘A royal flush’ –
But Israeli commentators said both sides had crossed red lines in the bid to own the visit of the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
“In the pope’s visit to the Middle East, both hosting sides crossed all the boundaries. Both the Palestinians and the Israelis deviated from the original plan and waged a war of tricks and shticks (gimmicks) at the expense of the leader of the Catholics,” wrote Eitan Haber in Yediot Aharonot.
“Many in the world, not just Catholics, are not pleased with the games that were played using the pope.”
Writing in the left-leaning Haaretz, columnist Matthew Kalman said the immediacy of the wall and the message of suffering it conveyed clearly gave the Palestinians the upper hand.
“Israelis take their visitors to Yad Vashem (Holocaust museum) to recall Jewish suffering a half century ago, more than one thousand miles away.
“But Palestinians take their visitors to the wall, the 30-foot-high, ugly, towering proof of Israeli-inflicted suffering, right here, right now,” he wrote.
“In the complex game of Papal propaganda poker, that’s a Royal Flush for the Palestinians.”